35. 2018 – New year – new me.

Following a visit from our friends in Italy and the generosity of our friends from Stoke who laid on a 1970’s themed NYE I had a few days to get things together and start to prepare for going back to school.

Our lovely head of HR had visited and we had a plan for a phased return.  To begin with I’d be teaching my year 11 and year 13 only and over the next few weeks I’d pick up more classes.  I was to come in late and go home early, I was not to do duties and not to lift anything, not to attend all meetings only those I decided were most important.  Most of my classes were on the ground floor but those which weren’t would require me to take all my kit in a trolley – this was provided by school, a rather lurid lilac and green which would be difficult to miss.  We changed our entire timetable at the end of January and this was my signal for coming back to work full time – it made sense as it was M-day + 12 weeks.

I had started back at the Life Centre and begun spin classes again… I could do them but not at the same rate and pace as previously.  That didn’t matter as I knew I would get back to my previous fitness.  By the end of January I took part in a sponsored spin for the Plymouth Ladies Charity Club and raised about £150 by spinning to 1980’s tunes whilst wearing a tutu and beads – not my usual spin look.    I felt that I was back on track – but appearances can be deceiving.


I’d been on Letrozole for about a month and the effects of it were starting to kick in.

Letrozole is a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor. It reduces the amount of oestrogen in the body as even when your ovaries have packed up this hormone can be made in the fatty tissues of the body. This happens when an enzyme (a type of protein) called aromatase changes other hormones into oestrogen.  As my cancer had been oestrogen positive it was in my interest to try and reduce/eliminate it and a tiny tablet once a day shouldn’t be too onerous.   The truth is that taking the tablet was easy, but the effects were quite tough to begin with.  Volcanic hot flushes which originated in the mid chest area and erupted up to my ears, no seismic warnings just the speed and heat of a pyroclastic flow (about 100km/ph and 1000 degree c) but not so terrible that I was vapourised.  A lack of energy which I put down to recovering from surgery and rushing back to work but this was tiredness on a different scale – a Richter Scale of fatigue – by Fridays I was about an 8 – great devastation!  The final impact of Letrozole was that my hands and feet morphed into appendages so stiff they were like calcified bodies from Pompeii and had about as much movement first thing in the morning.Image result for richter scale logarithmic

Source of image: https://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:Math110/003/Teams/Ticino/The_Richter_Scale#cite_note-3

Tip:  If you are struggling with the medication tell the Breast Care Team – there are usually alternatives which you can try until you find something which you tolerate better.  Remember the bigger picture – the aim is to keep the cancer away.


Author: fionaosmaston

I live in Plymouth, Devon with my husband Nick and near my parents Sandy and Sheena. Our three children, Marcus, Phoebe and Miles are grown up. I am a geographer and love teaching Geography. My current role is as an Assistant Vice Principal in an inner city comprehensive school where I lead on coaching and initial teacher training. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and following a skin sparing mastectomy and endrocrine/hormone treatment I am now awaiting a final reconstruction. These views are my own and writing this story has helped me come to terms with where I am in this interlude of life which has been dominated by breast cancer.

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